August 19, 2016 12:05 pm
Updated: August 19, 2016 12:53 pm

High temperatures prompt warning over increased risk of forest fires in B.C.

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High temperatures, dry weather and gusty winds are expected throughout most of the province this weekend, which may prove to be one of the hottest of the year.

Accompanying those high temperatures comes an increased risk for forest fires popping up and fire crews are already busy.

The BC Wildfire Service said crews are preparing for more fire activity and urges the public to be cautious with activities in the backcountry.

From April 2016 to yesterday, the service has responded to 873 wildfires, of which 403 were caused by people.

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The fire danger rating throughout the province is generally ‘moderate’ to ‘high’ with many pockets of ‘extreme’, according to the BC Wildfire Service, which makes the need for preventing human-caused fires crucial.

There is currently a campfire ban in the Coastal and Northwest fire centres.

Late Thursday afternoon fire crews raced to Highway 1 in North Vancouver after getting a report of a grass fire burning near the Lynn Valley off-ramp.

“When our crews arrived on the scene, it was travelling up the hill towards a residential area,” said North Vancouver Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Kennedy.

“It was about 100 square feet and was growing.”

Northwest of Kelowna, on the west side of Okanagan Lake, firefighters battled the 2.8 hectare Cinnabar Creek wildfire. The fire started on Wednesday afternoon and prompted evacuation alerts, which included two children’s camps.

The fire was contained and alerts lifted but the wildfire risk is real, according to fire crews.

There are more than 225 wildfires currently burning in B.C. and the high temperatures are not helping.

The scorching sun brought out the heat yesterday as a mid-August heat wave hit its peak. While Vancouver International Airport only recorded a high of 23 C, much of Metro Vancouver and the Southern Interior saw temperatures above 30 C.

A total of 17 weather stations across the province felt record temperatures for the date, including West Vancouver and White Rock.

The weather coupled with dry conditions is why people need to be careful and not throw their cigarettes out the window, Kennedy said.

Firefighters are investigating the strong possibility that a tossed cigarette may have started the grass fire in North Vancouver yesterday. Kennedy said they were able to get the upper hand on the fire because someone quickly called 9-1-1.

~ with files from Catherine Urquhart and Jill Slattery

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